Get the Therapy you Want, Part 3
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
In previous posts, I discussed some typical barriers to seeking help and how to work through them. These included concrete barriers lack lack of money or time, and emotional barriers like a fear of vulnerability. Here are a few final barriers you or someone you know might struggle with, and ways to overcome them.
The first is a struggle with finding the right therapist for you. Not every therapist will be the best fit for you, and there are many, many therapists out there. The more options you’re presented with, the harder it is for you to make a choice.
Here are some helpful steps you can take to make this process feel less overwhelming.
* Seek out a therapist who specializes in something that you’re dealing with. For example, if you’re questioning your gender, there are many therapists who have special training or experience in this area. Or perhaps you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, and you need some parenting support. You may want to seek a therapist with experience in this area, or a therapist with special training in providing parenting support. You can find out about a therapist’s specialty by reading their materials online, calling them and asking, or searching for therapists on Psychology Today with the particular specialty you’re looking for.
*Ask the therapist questions you have before the first appointment. You can ask the therapist if they have worked with clients like you, or clients who struggled with what you are dealing with. Sometimes with just a quick phone call you can gauge whether you feel comfortable with this particular therapist.
*Finally, seek referrals from friends, family members or medical professionals that you know. Often, your primary care doctor may keep a list of therapists he or she likes to refer to. Or you may have a friend who sees a great therapist, and who can refer you to that person. Just as you might utilize your social network to find new job leads, you can often find a great therapist this way too.
Here’s one final barrier to seeking help - internalized stigma. You may have internalized a sense of judgment towards people who need mental health help. You may feel like if you go see a therapist, that means you’re “crazy,” or will be labeled as such. Maybe no one you know has spoken of going to therapy before, and you feel embarrassed even thinking about going.
How to work through it:
*Recognize and name it. If you feel a sense of judgment come up towards yourself or others for seeking therapeutic help, ask yourself where that comes from and why it’s there. What messages have you received from the media or the culture at large about mental health?
*Know the facts. Many people who come to therapy simply need help working through issues like getting along with others in their lives, or wanting to learn better communication skills, or to learn how to deal with anxiety. Seeing a therapist does not mean there is anything wrong with you. In fact, if you see a therapist in private practice, you may even have the option of requesting not to be diagnosed. Diagnoses are only required when the therapist is billing an insurance company. This is one reason some therapists in private practice do not accept insurance - so that they don’t have to label their clients.
I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I am currently accepting new clients and have available appointments evenings and weekends. 585-294-4776